Trey Parker

On this date in 1969, Trey Parker was born Randolph Severn Parker III in Denver, Colorado. He attended the Berklee School of Music before transferring to the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he studied film and music and met his long-time collaborator Matt Stone. After leaving school, Parker directed a film called “Cannibal! The Musical” (1993). Parker and Stone collaborated on various projects, including an animated short entitled “The Spirit of Christmas” (1996), in which Santa Claus and Jesus fight about the true meaning of Christmas (the answer is that the true meaning of Christmas is presents, not fighting).

This short led to a 1997 deal with Comedy Central to make “South Park,” an animated show starring four third-graders: Kyle, Stan, Cartman, and Kenny (characters first explored in the short), which is frequently satirical and often employs crude humor. Parker and Stone do most of the male characters’ voices themselves.

The show is set in the fictional town of South Park, Colorado. Parker and Stone made a movie in 1999 titled “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut”. “South Park” has been nominated for several Emmys and has won Outstanding Animated Program three times. The three-part “Imaginationland” won 2008’s Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program. Parker is also a Tony winner with “The Book of Mormon,” another collaboration with Stone, winning nine Tonys in 2011, including Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical.

Parker and Stone are not afraid to satirize sensitive subjects, including religion. Jesus (voiced by Stone) has appeared in many episodes, for example as a superhero and the leader of the Super Best Friends in an episode entitled “Super Best Friends,” which originally aired on July 4, 2001. This group also featured other religious figures, including Buddha, Lao Tse, Krishna, Joseph Smith, and Muhammed. (Islamic law traditionally prohibits visual depictions of their prophet.)

In 2006, Stone and Parker’s attempt to depict Muhammed in the two-parter “Cartoon Wars” in response to the Danish cartoon controversy was censored by Comedy Central. In the episode “200,” Muhammad is alleged to be totally hidden inside a bear suit inside a U-Haul. In Muhammad’s original portrayal on the show (in “Super Best Friends”), he was a superhero with the powers of flame; however, he had since gained the superpower of not being able to be made fun of, which Tom Cruise and other celebrities are shown trying to obtain for themselves in “200” and its follow-up, “201.” (Death threats over Muhammad’s portrayal in “201” received in 2010 led “Super Best Friends” to be pulled from syndication, four years after “Cartoon Wars” was censored.)

Freedom From Religion Foundation